So, the business of being a homeschooling mom, adjusting to our fall schedule and getting our bearings has take its toll on my writing. Which is as it should be. *insert cheesy grin here* But, if you want to read the story of our homeschooling lessons over the past decade, start HERE and then go HERE , or, just read part 3 first.
You are the boss.
A friend schedules an hour to an hour a half of quiet every afternoon, and guards it jealously. This is her oasis in the middle of the busy-ness of their life and home school.
I haven’t found I need it every day, but, about once a week, I kick the family out of the house and pet the dog/cat while I stare out the window in absolute silence. This is a critical part of my ability to survive the constant pressure of intense dialog with two teen boys who are firmly entrenched in the blacks and whites of life. The kind of conversations where they are absolutely right… Until they aren’t.
They want to talk about a lot of deep concepts and are wrestling with a society that makes little sense to them. Philosophical consistency is critical to their security and they are finding themselves in a world lacking much dependability. This is often a mentally exhausting exercise and yet, it is absolutely the most rewarding element of parenting I’ve yet to experience.
Maybe you struggle with little ones who constantly need to touch and you are on physical contact overload. Or the phone rings constantly because of a needy friend or family member.
Be intentional about getting your quiet time.
Silence is not wasted time. Don’t fill it with bible studies, writing in your journal, or more lesson planning. This is your quiet time. Close your eyes and rest. Tell the Lord the things in your heart that have surfaced that day. Listen to some beautiful music without words. Breath. In and out. Repeatedly and slowly. Maybe you are more active and need motion to mentally rest? I’ve had seasons like that. In fact, when the boys were little, I used to walk every morning and it provided me much-needed perspective on the day and the function of our messy little world.
If you’ve ever done any kind of weight loss or gym commitment you understand the value of accountability. Even the accountability of the bank and those pesky little overdraft fees at least keeps you mindful of what you are doing and why!
There is a special kind of insecurity we experience as home educators and parents that I would just love to punch in the face. We have the fear of someone finding out we didn’t do our math yesterday or that our 15 year old doesn’t know the months of the year in order, not that I’d be familiar with those particular fears, it’s all hypothetical.
We stand alone in our living rooms trembling at the thought of someone realizing we threw our curriculum together from Costco workbooks and an over used library card racking up late fees. We feel proud of the $1000 we spent on a full box curriculum in September and hide in shame and embarrassment because we haven’t even OPENED the spelling/vocab/art/history lessons and it’s now February 13th.
What do you do? How do you break that cycle?
Sign up for the local homeschool group chat board (even if sometimes they act like girls and wax long and eloquent over minutiae) and ask your questions. There is nothing a seasoned homeschool parent likes to talk about more than their own experiences. Please understand that we WANT to encourage you because we ALL remember the beginning and the fear of failing to teach our 5 year old to count and say his ABC’s.
Join the Co-Op, if you have time (refer to Mama’s Time). Give yourself permission to be the one to fetch papers and fill coffee pots, clean up after, or sit in the nursery holding babies.
Maybe, if you are like me, you might find friends who understand your struggle and are eager to encourage you. Don’t need that? What about a class/field trip/co-op you didn’t know existed. If you are especially fortunate, you may find a friend or two for your kids who both understand the challenges of being a homescholar and can encourage them. Perhaps you will discover, as I did, an aptitude and passion for teaching and the impetus to prepare for a class gives you a much needed boost of accountability to be a better educator at home. Not to mention the personal affirmation of doing something for which you have passion.
In the middle of a reading lesson, for the son I didn’t know as dyslexic at the time, I burst into tears and ran to the bedroom. It was a chore, every day, to attempt to reach him. I was tired. Day after day I would open that book, 100 Easy Lessons, feeling hopeful and every day we would argue, he would cry, I would get angry and frustrated, threats and bribes would echo off the walls until, finally, I gave up and we would try something else.
Honestly, this was truly one of the most miserable seasons of my parenting experience.
But we stuck it out and kept trying. We continued looking for the Thing that would “speak his language”, as I often say.
God was faithful to open doors, understanding, and provided, through a very unlikely situation, just what we needed to not only diagnose his reading struggle, but to educate ME on how to reach him.
We revamped a whole lot, prayed quite a bit, and learned to look at each day as a new beginning where we could accept God’s grace and mercy, pass that around, and see Him work within our homeschool to provide, for our kids and ourselves, what we needed to keep going.
The boy still doesn’t understand the thrill I feel at the anticipation of a new book and, just yesterday, as he was reading his assigned work, he said, “I really don’t understand why people are so into reading.”
Which made me smile.
Because of God’s faithfulness to us, he doesn’t have to enjoy reading but at least he can and has the choice.
This is Important. If you read nothing else, read this:
Take One Day At A Time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither the relationship nor character necessary for success that the Lord is building within your family will come quickly.
When the boys were little we’d have entire weeks of “character development” studies. We took the time to learn to work together. We did school most days, a little bit at a time, and then marveled at what we had accomplished over the course of months and years.
I cannot stress enough the gift of friendship and relationship that our family enjoys. This is, I believe, a direct result of us being willing to follow the vision God has placed on our hearts and not be sidetracked by someone else’s “vision” for us.
I have two children. Two fine young men. In a few short years they will be on their way and all the years of personal sacrifice, mutual investment will have to stand on its own. I know we have failed in some areas and, hopefully, we will have succeeded in others without even realizing it.
I have intentionally and methodically homeschooled my boys for a decade but I have poured my heart into them since the moment I knew of their existence.
It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I’ve questioned my abilities every summer as I look ahead at a new year and each subject (cough, cough… math) as it increases in both intensity and difficulty.
But as a friend told me years ago,
“God will do miracles for you and for your children. He cares more about their education than you do. Trust Him.”
Now, get out there and DO THIS!!! You can. I know it.